Each and every one of us has a duty to ensure we live in an environment which is both healthy and sustainable. It has long been known that our actions in creating greenhouse gasses has resulted in climate change and unless we all reduce these emissions drastically it will have damaging effects on our planet and economy.
Reducing the amount of food waste has been deemed critical if the UK is to meet international targets on climate change, limiting greenhouse gas emissions, and meet obligations under the European Landfill Directive to reduce biodegradable waste going to landfill.
Food waste was discussed at the 34th G8 summit with Prime Minister Gordon Brown saying “ We must do more to deal with unnecessary demand and do more to cut food waste”
In June 2009, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced the government’s “War on waste”, a programme aimed at reducing Britain’s food waste. The proposed plans under the scheme include: scrapping best before and limiting sell by labels on food, creating new food packaging sizes, constructing more “on-the-go” recycling points and unveiling five flagship anaerobic digestion plants. Two years after its launch, the “Love Food, Hate Waste” campaign is claiming it has already prevented 137,000 tonnes of waste and, through the help it has given to over two million households, has made savings of £300 million.
The food industry produces large amounts of food waste, with retailers alone generating 1,600,000 tonnes of food waste per year very little of this waste is recycled and goes to landfill. The food supply chain accounts for a fifth of UK carbon emissions. The effects of stopping food waste that can potentially be prevented have been likened to removing one in five cars from UK roads.
Internationally, food waste’s effect on the environment has been an issue. Ireland is facing fines of millions of euros if the amount of biodegradable waste it sends to landfill does not fall below the maximum quantity set by the European Union’s landfill directive. By 2010, the same directive will impose fines of £40m a year across England, rising to £205m by 2013, if its own targets on biodegradable municipal waste are not met; the amount of biodegradable municipal waste being sent to landfill in 2010 must be 75% of that sent in 1995, by 2013 it must be 50% and by 2020 it must be 35%.